Did internal politics lead to the exit of Sanjay Kapoor, CEO of Airtel, or was it a performance-related one?
Tuesday's announcement was indeed a surprise to many, but, at the same time, wasn't so to many in the company.
Grapevine has it that Kapoor did not want to report to global CEO Manoj Kohli once again following a restructuring exercise that may eventually end up combining the Indian and African operations.
After Kohli was sent to head Airtel's Africa operations, Sanjay Kapoor, who was reporting to him till then, got a leg-up to be the CEO of the India business - a far, far bigger operation.
Both of them then started reporting directly to founder-chairman Sunil Mittal.
Now, in the latest reorganisation, Kapoor, was offered the designation of Deputy Global CEO - a position that's above Gopal Vittal's - who, too, directly reports to Sunil Mittal - under Kohli.
For some time, there were rumours that Kapoor may also be shifted to lead the African operations.
Mittal, who was in office Tuesday, is said to have tried to persuade Kapoor, but couldn't, sources said.
Africa is a very small market generating revenues of $2.163 billion (Rs11,810 crore) in the six months of this fiscal (April-September), out of Bharti Airtel's $7.3 billion (Rs39,623 crore) in the same period.
There are about 18 countries in the business, with Nigeria dialing up $605 million or 28% of Airtel Africa sales.
Airtel recently said its loss-making African operations may not meet its target of $5 billion in revenues and $2 billion in core earnings, or Ebidta, for the year to March 31, 2013.
That compares with the company's annual revenues of Rs71,451 crore or $14.9 billion.
Since Kapoor took over in 2010, Airtel's revenues have risen 20%, while profits have fallen 30%, and continuously for the last 10 quarters.
And the dissatisfaction was not confined to Kapoor alone. After news of the global restructuring, the company saw the exits of chief technology officer Shankar Halder, supply chain head S Asokan and director for IT (India and South Asia) Amrita Gangotra.
After joining Bharti Cellular Ltd as COO in 1998, he took over as CEO in March 2010.
Under his leadership, Bharti Airtel underwent numerous changes and milestones - be it the acquisition of Zain's business marking entry into Africa, the subsequent rebranding of the company's name to 'airtel', the merging of the enterprise, wireless, DTH and broadband business units or the foray into 3G, and most recently the launch of 4G.